Summary: A look at three different types of giving in the church.
Three Stages of Giving
A man on vacation was strolling along outside his hotel in Acapulco enjoying the sunny Mexican weather. Suddenly, he heard the screams of a woman who was kneeling in front of a child. The man quickly ran over to the woman and began to listen to her screams. Soon, he was able to piece together enough of her Spanish screams to determine that the child had swallowed a rather large coin. Seizing the child by the heels, the man held him up, gave him a few shakes, and an American quarter fell to the sidewalk. Realizing that this man was an American, the woman began to speak English. “Oh, thank you sir!” cried the woman. “You seemed to know just how to get it out of him. Are you a doctor?” “No, ma’am,” replied the man. “I’m with the United States Internal Revenue Service.”
With the new year rolling around, we know that we are not far away from having to settle up with Uncle Sam. It is almost tax time again! When we get into tax time, there is one topic that is on everybody’s mind. You guessed it – MONEY. Of course, most people think about money much more than at tax time. We have multi-million dollar lotteries. Also, every year, we hear from Ed McMahon and we may have already won 10 million dollars. The newspaper and radio is full of get rich quick plans, and the television is full of commercials dealing with investing to make more money. We have got money on the brain, and it does not appear that money will take any less importance in the near future.
Now, in the world of the church, there are two roads that most churches take when it comes to money. The first approach is to talk about money all the time. They will have lengthy sermon series, mini-sermons before the offering, special Bible studies, and constant fund drives to come up with the funds they deem necessary. Well, you don’t have to be around this long until the church starts to sound like a beggar, and the people get turned off. The second road that churches take is to be silent about the subject so as not to offend anyone. This seems to be good until we come to a generation that does not know what the Bible says about giving. We are almost there.
This morning, I want to take a Biblical look at what God says about money and what we are to give. As a basis for the sermon, I want to start in 2 Corinthians 9:6-11. If you have your Bible, turn there with me now.
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make his grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you may be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
Now, it is clear to me from this passage, that the more we give, the more God will give back to us. If we sow more, we reap more. If we give out more, God, who is the supplier of the seed, will increase our store and our harvest. In fact, we have the promise that we will be made rich in every way so that we may be generous on every occasion. This is great news, but it still does not answer the question that is on everyone’s mind. How much should we give? This is touched on in this passage. We are told to give what we have decided in our heart to give and what we can with a cheerful heart. This morning, I want to take a Biblical look at the three stages of giving that are mentioned in God’s Word. Then, we can make an informed decision on where we are and where we need to be when it comes to giving. Before we begin, let us ask the Lord to bless our time.
Stage 1: Tithing
Two men were marooned on a deserted island. One of the men was very worried and scared. He would pace back and forth nervously, but, the other man sat back comfortably enjoying the warmth of the sun. The first man said to the second man, “Aren’t you afraid we are about to die? We are stuck here with no boat, limited food, and o prospects of being rescued.” The second man simply responded with a no. The first man could not believe it. “How can you be so calm in a time like this?” “Well,” said the second man, “I make $100,000 a week and tithe faithfully to my church every week. Believe me, my pastor will find us!”